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Changing climate could worsen foods’ nutrition

Evidence builds for lessening of certain micronutrients, protein in plants

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3:07pm, March 13, 2017
Arizona wheat field

CROP FUTURES  Experiments using circles of white pipes blowing extra carbon dioxide over crops suggest that certain nutrients may dwindle in crops grown in a carbon-enhanced future atmosphere. Here, researchers in Arizona measure the growth of wheat.

A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.

Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link low selenium with such troubles as weak immune systems and cognitive decline. And in severely selenium-starved spots in China, children’s bones don’t grow to normal size or shape. This vital element could become sparser in soils of major agricultural regions as the climate changes, an international research group announced online February 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Likewise, zinc and iron

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